Friday, November 4, 2011

Elle Decor's 2011 A List - Designer #1: BassamFellows

Last year, I thought it would be fun to write about Elle Decor's "A List" of designers. And it really was.

Here is the first image featured in what ended up being months of posts:

Pretty right? I and when I started, I thought it would be all about my preferred "pretty."

Not so much.

So in addition to being fun, this exercise was also somewhat of a learning experience.

I challenged myself to focus only on what I DID like about the designs - and to then write about it. This is counter intuitive to my usual "in or out," "yea or nay" approach to finding beauty in the world.

And I would assume that most could say the same. Do you love every designer's personal aesthetic? I don't. In fact, I often exclaim things like, "that's hideous!" and "why would anyone want to sit in a giant brass hand?"

But in trying to find at least one appealing element in some images that seemed custom tailored to make me gag, I experienced something rather extraordinary. I started finding myself drawn to new designs and ideas that I would have once labeled: "not my style."

And since I've been making a lot of "not my style" statements lately...I think it's time for another round of "what DO I like about this?" And what better place to find designers and perspectives than Elle Decor's 2011 A List?

So without further ado, today's spotlight is on BassamFellows.

Here is what Elle Decor says about them:

Handcrafted, organic, and rooted in nature: Australian architect and designer Craig Bassam and Scott Fellows, a former creative director in fashion, describe their style as “Craftsman modern.” A gorgeous wood grain is often all the ornament they need, whether they are designing spare interiors for the James hotel in Los Angeles or renovating their own Philip Johnson house.

This is already making me feel uncertain. While I can appreciate beautiful wood grains and organic elements, the description very clearly omits any reference to color. These are not going to be colorful spaces, are they? Also? "Spare" is not an adjective that describes most of the interiors that I love... So the challenge begins!

First - some pictures.

There aren't exactly tons of images out there for BassamFellows, and their own site only features one residential project (the rest are office, retail and hotel spaces). So to say that there wasn't a lot to choose from would be an understatement. On the upside, it certainly streamlined my photo selection process.

The first thing that strikes me about all of these spaces is the focus on bringing the outdoors inside. And oddly enough - this is very similar to the Key West culture of outdoor living. No - you won't find many Conch houses with glass walls - but it's not uncommon to see walls of French doors leading out to patios and porches.

I love the way the rooms are filled with light. And I can easily imagine spending a quiet afternoon reading and sipping tea, glancing up to see that I'm surrounded by trees.

While this definitely isn't the decor that I would want in my own house, I would thoroughly enjoy visiting those rooms. And I think that may just be the core of this challenge: being able to appreciate and enjoy spaces that you wouldn't necessarily choose for yourself.

One thing that I'm going to do a little differently this year, is that I am going touch upon elements that don't appeal to me. Just a little bit - and primarily because I would LOVE to hear your thoughts too. Tell me why I'm wrong - or just offer another perspective. Help me broaden my decor horizons.

So here is a bit about what I don't like:

The lack of art. Whenever I visit a home, I love to look at what the owners choose to put up on their walls. It's such a personal element of decor. Not just anyone could live in that house.

And while I have learned over the years that contemporary furniture can be very comfortable...those hard benches and backless stools are probably better for looking than sitting.

Of course, an architect and a furniture designer are bound to be far more conceptual than most when it comes to interiors... So I understand that the structure of the rooms themselves and the pieces of furniture within are an expression of art. Still - it feels a little impersonal to me. A little cold. And honestly, I wonder what those rooms really look like on a random Saturday afternoon.


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